So what exactly is Psoriasis and what causes it?
Psoriasis is a long lasting autoimmune disease characterised by patches of abnormal skin. These skin patches are typically red, dry and itchy, and scaly. Psoriasis varies in severity from small, localised patches to complete body coverage. Injury to the skin can trigger psoriatic skin changes at that spot, which is known as the Koebner phenomenon. The disease affects two to four percent of the population with men and women being affected with equal frequency. The disease may begin at any age, but typically starts in adulthood. There are five main types of psoriasis as set out below:
Plaque (Psoriasis Vulgaris)
This makes up about 90 percent of cases. It typically presents as red patches with white scales on top. Areas of the body most commonly affected are the back of the forearms, shins, navel area, and scalp.
Presents as drop-shaped lesions.
Forms red patches in skin folds.
Presents as small non-infectious pus-filled blisters.
Occurs when the rash becomes very widespread, and can develop from any of the other types.
Fingernails and toenails are affected in most people with psoriasis at some point in time. This may include pits in the nails or changes in nail colour. Psoriasis is generally thought to be a genetic disease that is triggered by environmental factors. In twin studies, identical twins are three times more likely to be affected compared to non-identical twins.
This suggests that genetic factors predispose to psoriasis. Symptoms often worsen during winter and with certain medications, such as beta blockers or NSAIDs. Infections and psychological stress can also play a role. The underlying mechanism involves the immune system reacting to skin cells.
How can psoriasis be treated?
There is no cure for psoriasis; however various treatments can help control the symptoms. These treatments include steroid creams, vitamin D3 cream, ultraviolet light and immune system surpassing medications, such as methotrexate. About 75% of cases can be managed with creams alone.
Many people struggle to find products to put together a psoriasis skincare routine or to supplement stronger/ prescribed products. Given the characteristics of psoriasis you should look to put together a routine with products which have the following qualities:
Skin Barrier Repairing i.e. contain; cholesterol, ceramides and/or essential fatty acids to help rebuild the damaged skin barrier.
Moisture Boosting i.e. contain humectants such as hyaluronic acid or glycerin which bind water to the upper layers of the skin.
Contain Indigo Leaf - one of the few natural ingredients where scientific testing has taken place specifically on its positive impact towards improving the symptoms associated with psoriasis.